01/08/17 Adam Eidinger

This week we talk with DC-based drug policy reform activist Adam Eidinger from DCMJ about plans to hand out 4,200 joints at #Trump420 Inauguration Day, plus we look at Attorney General nominee Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III.

Program: 
Century of Lies
Date: 
Sunday, January 8, 2017
Guest: 
Adam Eidinger
Organization: 
Activist
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CENTURY OF LIES

JANUARY 8, 2017

TRANSCRIPT

DEAN BECKER: The failure of drug war is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors, and millions more now calling for for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century Of Lies.

DOUG MCVAY: Hello, and welcome to Century Of Lies. Century Of Lies is a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org.

January 20th is Inauguration Day. Drug policy reform and marijuana legalization activists in DC are planning to be there, and they're bringing along some legal weed. I spoke with Adam Eidinger of the DC Cannabis Coalition, Capitol Hemp, and DCMJ.org, to learn more.

And, you've got to get people's attention. You know? And, what the hell, it's legal in DC. People were giving flack about your visit to Sessions's office, right? Because somebody brought weed with them. Oh no, you brought weed. It's in DC, right? Where it's perfectly legal.

ADAM EIDINGER: Well, it was perfectly legal, not necessarily in that building. Although -- I mean, here's the thing, like, they say, well, bringing it on federal land is not legal. And that, okeh, fine, it's not legal. So the national Mall, the Capitol Building, not legal. But they brought it there as an act of civil disobedience, and when, given the choice of arresting those people because they were breaking the law, the staff was like, no no no, get the cops out of here, we're not arresting anybody. We can keep talking, they're talking, we're talking, let's just keep talking. And they just dealt with it like adults, and then I was like, hey, if you don't feel comfortable arresting somebody in your office, why do you feel comfortable breaking down our doors? Why do you feel comfortable arresting us on the street? If it's not okeh here, then it shouldn't be okeh anywhere. This is the place where the laws are being written. So if it doesn't work in your own office, it's not going to work anywhere.

And, anyway, it was an interesting moment in the meeting, because they were -- they thought they were being really gracious, you know, by not arresting the two people who had joints. They were rolling them in the office. You could smell the weed, they were like rolling them right there in the office, and it was great video. It was great, sensational video, I mean, our video went -- it hit over a million people. I mean, we've had -- you know that our videos through Now This Weed are reaching a giant audience. Like the video that we did yesterday about announcing this has received already 450,000 views, in just one day. In just 24 hours.

And there was another video we did when we did the smoke-in at the White House on 4/2, Reschedule 420. That video, right now it stands at about 11 million views. And, you know, like, we're really creating viral content through these actions. We did March of the Clones, that got a half million views, you know, where we had live plants. We dressed up like storm troopers in front of the White House. I mean, we try not to do the same protest twice, you know, we try to do something different every time. Although I have to say the inflatable joints were good about 6 times, those protests. People keep saying, you know, keep doing that protest.

ELIZABETH CROYDON: Is it still retired?

ADAM EIDINGER: They're retired for us. They're traveling around the country, getting used in other actions.

ELIZABETH CROYDON: Oh, good.

ADAM EIDINGER: You know, they're -- it's only good if you've never seen it before. Once you've seen it, it becomes kind of like a piece of plastic full of air. Right? So, yeah. Anyway. This is something we've been waiting to do, you know, giving away marijuana is like the f-bomb of protests. You know? Because you can bring out a huge popular crowd for it, and also, like, I think Trump might interpret it like, yeah, they're right. You know? I like these spunky activists. And he might turn around and be like, Sessions, you're not going to shut down this industry, in fact, I want you to say something at the hearing. Make it clear that you're not shutting down the industry. And make it clear that we're -- he's changing on, his views are changing on marijuana. Make it clear.

And then all this stress will go away, and you could be attorney general. Like, I actually think that he's more likely to say something conciliatory on the marijuana issue than the civil rights issues. Because this is bipartisan, it transcends race, and, although it is really important to minorities, it's important to white people too. So he's -- I don't know. I bet he's under some pressure right now. I mean, the media coverage in the last 48 hours, there's been 500 news stories, AP went on every single TV station in America. Every single TV station is covering it, like, there's not a TV station not covering it. And then it's on the front page of newspapers around the world, like, we found out that it's on the front page of papers in Canada, it's on the -- you know, the French media's here taking photos, because the story still has legs. And we haven't even done the action yet. We've just talked about doing it.

And, you know, we are within our rights to distribute cannabis in small quantities of two ounces or less. So, that's what we're doing, you know, like, the situation here, with the weed on the table, is that, you know, everybody's rolling joints, they're going to take them home, and they're going to bring them to the action on the 20th. So, even if the cops came here and were like, we're not going to let you do this, and tried to seize all the weed in my house, and charged me with some felony, on the first day of the Trump administration, under federal statute, I would be very shocked if the protest still didn't happen.

You know, like, it would still happen, because there's already 500 joints that are out there, and we're rolling every day, and then, you know, some people are like rolling in different locations. It's not just me. We've been really savvy with the press, and we're like the nerve center for the group. But, the fact is, there's just like an all-star cadre of marijuana activists in DC these days. When we legalized it, it became like a stronghold for people who want to live the lifestyle, who want to use cannabis whenever they want to use it. They don't want to be harassed, they want to be able to drive with it in their cars, and have it in their homes, and, we've got -- I have, like, my buddy Scrogger. Have you ever heard of Scrogger before?

DOUG MCVAY: Scrogger?

ADAM EIDINGER: You never heard of him? I mean, he deserves -- he's a national figure in the cannabis world, I think, but he's just sort of up and coming on the national side of things, but he, you know, he lives over in Southeast, and he gives away weed and seeds, and advice, and he just helps everybody grow weed. And he's a really good person, and he helps people who need weed, you know, helps people do their entrepreneurial activities, he has a radio show. He was totally not a public activist until we legalized, and now he's like this uber-activist.

There's this guy, Franklin Bryan, works for Samsung as a patent attorney. At night, he's like literally outside the White House vigiling for people sitting in jail, you know, I mean, he's a real medical cannabis advocate. And he's super-active. There's people sitting around the table here, there's literally, I'd say, 50 people in the city right now that are just all doing amazing work. Like, and they are holding events, they're -- the National Cannabis Festival we had had like 4,000 people at it last year. Paid, you know. And there was outdoor consumption going on at that event, even though it was supposedly against the rules, there was thousands of people using cannabis. There were live plants there. And it was just over by RFK Stadium.

So this is all happening in the nation's capitol for cannabis. It's really, really good. We're still, like, maturing, we still don't have tax and regulate, but we're in a unique position to speak up, and we could just stay silent, and we thought about that, but I think it's the wrong strategy. And I've argued with some people who I respect in the business side of marijuana. I've said to them, you're just going to have to suffer through what the consumers want, which is, consumers want more marijuana access. They don't want it to be tied up in quasi-monopolies, or oligopolies, and we can't get by by going quiet, because they're going to put a half million people in jail in the next year unless something changes.

And we should look at this as a sense of urgency, and it is a civil rights issue, it's a medical rights issue. So, let's get to business. And we can transcend Democrat, Republican. It doesn't matter, like, you can all benefit from doing the right thing on this issue. That's what I've been telling my Republican friends, it's like, you know what, the Republicans who stand up on this issue are going to get a lot of support from moderates, you know, and a lot of Democrats too, will even remember this, they'll be like, you know, he's not all that bad. So, anyway. Do you want to ask me a few questions? Or, I think we probably need to wrap up pretty soon.

DOUG MCVAY: Yes, absolutely, I mean, I'll use -- that's a lot of what I wanted to know. One thing, and -- well, just as an aside, agree or not, I think that your approach is certainly going to -- if it gets his attention, I think you'll have Trump's respect, because, I've said before he reminds me of Ronald Reagan in a lot of ways. It's not just the age and the premature senility, it's the -- he's a showman. They're both showmen, and I think that that's one of the reasons this has gone viral. I mean, you can't plan these things. It's, you know, but you created something that is, you know, it's a good show. And this -- it's a good enough show that even the promos are good, and so, you know, and that's -- I think if nothing else, you're going to get his respect, which, you know, is more than half the battle, I would have to say.

Yeah. If you don't get a seat the table, nobody's going to listen, and he's not going to give a seat at the table to anybody just based on the fact that they're correct. Oh please. The -- one quick question, and that is, back to what you said before, that you don't have tax and regulate in DC. And that's, I think, something that I want to make sure that people understand. This is not a gag being put on, getting funded by some dispensary or a, you know, a prolific growing supply thing. This is actually, the whole difference between the business of marijuana and the politics of reform. You're activists, this is about reform. What -- tell us, how do things work in DC without shops and such?

ADAM EIDINGER: Okeh, so, we have 3,000 people that are currently buying cannabis from dispensaries, and then we have, you know, I would say approximately a thousand home growers that are, like myself, grow at home. And the home growers tend to have a surplus, like, you know, a pound or two every quarter. Because you can grow six plants, and that should give you enough to grow for you and your friends or your family. I mean, I grew -- I grow only under natural light and the normal grow cycle, so from April til November. And my six plants, with my partner here, because it's actually three plants per person, no more than two people per household. So it's six plants. You know, we yielded a little under four pounds. I don't need that much. So I always intended to reserve like a pound or two for activism, and I'd say at least a pound is going to go into the giveaway here.

But then I know, you know, I've got a buddy who has a back yard, and he's growing indoors too, and he's still under the plant count limit and is doing great. He has like 8 or 9 pounds, and so there's people who have excess, who don't need all this for their friends or for themselves, and, plus, when we give it away, we really, really just throw the whole thing up in the air, as far as messaging. You typically, the messaging is about making money and taxes, and we're saying it's about human rights, dignity, it's about civil rights, it's about doing it for yourself, you know, and frankly, this is a really great do-it-yourself crop. You can save a lot of money, it's a 90 percent discount is the way I like to describe it. And, you know, I grew $20,000-plus retail worth of cannabis for $500 worth of inputs.

So, it's worth the labor, it's worth my time, you know, and a lot of people are doing it, and it's -- there are even real estate brokers in town that specialize in finding real estate that's cannabis-friendly. You know, the owner of the property still has the right to say I don't want it on my property, including the federal government or private property. And the federal government in DC still doesn't want it on federal property. That includes the Capitol, the national Mall, you know, the national parks and stuff. So, it is limited where you can go, but, we are going to be giving it away on DC land, and that's perfectly legal. Anyway. Much more of this you want to ask?

DOUG MCVAY: Just tell people where they can find out more, where they can follow all that's happening there for this event, which is January 20th, of course, and for the -- 120. Not as catchy.

ADAM EIDINGER: 120. 1/20 at 8 in the morning, Dupont Circle, west side, from 8 to 10 we'll be giving it away, along with donuts, bagels, and coffee and tea. And then we're going to walk as a group down to the national Mall, and give away whatever cannabis we have left until we enter the Mall grounds. We won't be smoking up as a group, that is not the plan. We are telling people, save the joint for four minutes and twenty seconds into his administration, but don't necessarily smoke it in public. You can smoke it at home, you can watch it on TV.

I'm fully aware of people coming who are going to come for the weed and not for the speech. So, but we are trying to be accessible to Democrats who are pretty upset, as well as protesters, and then, as well as the Trump supporters. We really are going to be very gracious with them, because many of them do support legalization, actually, I think a majority of them do. And so we're actually trying to get them excited about the free give-away, and you know what? If you're traveling to Washington from Texas, you don't want to fly here with weed, right? So, here, and you know it's legal here, so where you going to get it? Come to the give-away.

All right, so, that's -- most information though, updates, join our email list at DCMJ.org. There's a sign-up right there, DCMJ.org.

DOUG MCVAY: Adam Eidinger, thank you so much, and the best of luck, man. You're doing god's work, brother.

ADAM EIDINGER: Thank you for your interest and support all these years, and I'm looking forward to locking myself to the gates of the White House, if we have to, with you, all right. I hope not to have to do that, but if we have to, I'll do it with you, again.

DOUG MCVAY: There's no one I'd rather be arrested with.

ADAM EIDINGER: Okeh. Peace out, Doug.

DOUG MCVAY: Peace, brother. Thank you.

ADAM EIDINGER: All right.

DOUG MCVAY: That again was a conversation with Adam Eidinger. He's a progressive political activist and drug policy reformer in Washington, DC. You can learn more about the Inauguration Day January Twentieth demo at DCMJ.org. If you're on twitter or facebook, the hashtag is #Trump420.

You're listening to Century of Lies. We're a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org.

One of the reasons for the demo on Inauguration Day is to protest the nomination of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Before we go any further, I need to correct something from a recent show. When I was talking with Sanho Tree a couple of weeks back, I made a mistake regarding Sessions's full name. I called him Jeffrey. That was a mistake, for which I apologize. His first name is actually Jefferson, as in Jefferson Davis. The senator's full name is Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III.

The Senate is hurrying Beauregard's nomination along. The confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled for January Tenth and Eleventh, so by the time some of you hear these words, the Committee may have already finished its work. As far as I know, they do have to wait until President Obama actually leaves office before voting on the nomination in the full Senate.

Senator Sessions – Beauregard – is currently a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He'll have to resign to take the position of Attorney General. Beauregard has been on Judiciary since he first got into Senate twenty years ago. Prior to that, Beauregard had been the US Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, appointed by President Reagan in 1981 and confirmed by the US Senate. Now a few years after that, in 1986, Beauregard was appointed to be a federal judge. That nomination was voted down largely because of Beauregard's racist past.

Beauregard was regarded as too racist to be a federal judge, yet he was still a US Attorney after that, in charge of federal law enforcement in the southern district of Alabama, he didn't step down until 1993. Different job, different standards? Maybe just a different time, only five years later yet still a world of difference. Maybe it's just that Beauregard's words only came to light when the judgeship was on the line.

Well, in spite of all that, the people of Alabama voted him into the US Senate in the 1996 general election. For 20 years, Beauregard has served on the Senate Judiciary Committee. The man who was too racist to be a federal judge spent the past 20 years deciding on federal judgeships, on US Attorney appointments, heck, on all Justice Department appointments. And also appointments to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

And people wonder how our criminal justice system could still be racially biased.

As I said, Beauregard's colleagues on the Judiciary Committee will hold their hearing on his nomination on January Tenth and Eleventh. Sessions is a terrible nominee for Attorney General, he's one of the worst choices possible. Many progressive organizations, such as the NAACP and the Drug Policy Alliance, are working to oppose the nomination, as is the DC Cannabis Coalition, and really every marijuana legalization and drug policy reform activist in the country, anyone of them that's worth the name. For folks who need more information about Beauregard's politics, let's hear him talk about drug policy and drug law enforcement.

Back in June of 2016, the Senate Judiciary Committee held an oversight hearing on the Drug Enforcement Administration. Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg was the witness. Here's Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III questioning Administrator Rosenberg.

SENATOR JEFFERSON BEAUREGARD SESSIONS III: Mister Rosenberg, I remember when we first met, I was very impressed with you. You were -- appeared to me to be honest and committed to the duties of the head of DEA, and administrator, and I appreciated your approach. You told us at that time how many people are dying a day in America from drug overdose. Can you give us those numbers again?

CHUCK ROSENBERG: Yes sir, it's 47,000 a year, about 129 a day, 5 an hour. And about 60 percent of that are from opioids.

JEFFERSON SESSIONS: That is a stunning, damaging statistic for America. I mean, we're losing people every day, every few minutes.

CHUCK ROSENBERG: Yes sir.

JEFFERSON SESSIONS: And it's -- many of them, if they don't die, are heading down a road to personal, financial, and family destruction, is it not?

CHUCK ROSENBERG: Yes, sir. In fact, the numbers are so staggering, they're about 50 percent higher than those we lose in automobile accidents, it's about 50 percent higher than those we lose to gun violence. I mentioned two weeks ago that I think there are certain words we overuse in our lexicon, like epidemic and historic and unprecedented. Those words fit here.

JEFFERSON SESSIONS: I do believe they do. I remember, well, I'd just say this. I think your analysis that headquarters can be a burden, a problem, rather than an asset, to the people who do the work, the real work is done by your agents who investigate and produce cases that allow criminal drug dealers to be prosecuted. Isn't that right?

CHUCK ROSENBERG: Well, it's true, but I've been both a field person and a headquarters person, so I don't view either of them as all bad or all good. I mean, in theory, we're on the same team, and we have to do a better job at headquarters of supporting the men and women in the field. I don't think we've done a good enough job.

JEFFERSON SESSIONS: Well, I think that's always a problem. In your National Drug Threat Assessment of last year, you said, quote, Mexican transnational criminal organizations remain the greatest criminal drug threat to the United States. National level gangs and neighborhood gangs continue to form relationships with Mexican organizations to increase profits for the gangs through drug distribution and transportation, for the enforcement of drug payments, and for protection of drug transportation corridors, from use by rival gangs.

Your report further states, quote, though gangs are involved in a multitude of criminal activities, street level drug trafficking and distribution continues to be their main source of revenue. And they commit violent crimes, such as robbery, assault, threats, intimidation, in furtherance of those ends. Close quote. Based in my experience of prosecuting these kind of cases, I think this is personal natural, what it's always been. Would you agree that this shows that drug trafficking is by nature a violent crime?

CHUCK ROSENBERG: Many drug traffickers are violent, dangerous, armed criminals. If we're doing our work right, Senator, we're going after the most violent, most dangerous, and most notorious criminals, not the low level folks.

JEFFERSON SESSIONS: Well, if you're a drug dealer and somebody doesn't pay you, can you file a lawsuit in local court to collect the debt?

CHUCK ROSENBERG: I guess theoretically, but I haven't seen very many of those.

JEFFERSON SESSIONS: Well, you can't, because you can't enforce an unlawful debt in court.

CHUCK ROSENBERG: That's true, sir.

JEFFERSON SESSIONS: But, yes, it doesn't happen. I mean, intimidation, threats, and violence are essential for large-scale drug gangs, isn't that true?

CHUCK ROSENBERG: That is absolutely true.

JEFFERSON SESSIONS: And it just tends to happen. I mean, you can't maintain your network if you don't maintain discipline. It seems to me, that's pretty well known. We've got an increase in violent crime. According to the most recent data from FBI, homicides nationwide increased 6 percent from '14 to '15, and even more in the big cities. Data released from the Major Cities Chiefs Association show the trend has continued so far into 2016, with murder rates from '15 to '16 up by 60 percent in New York, 70 percent in Chicago, 73 percent in Dallas, and 82 percent in Las Vegas. At the same time, National Institute for Drug Abuse is reporting increased overdose deaths, fentanyl and synthetic marijuana is rising, given that according to the -- your report, 2015 report, street gangs are continuing to expand to increase their dominance and territory in the drug gang, and you find that drug trafficking is an inherently violent activity, so, would you agree that the increase in drug trafficking in the United States has been a factor in the increase in violent crime?

CHUCK ROSENBERG: I agree, it's a factor, yes sir.

JEFFERSON SESSIONS: You know, Mister Chairman, we see these increase in deaths, the number of 129 was higher than 122 you gave us a number of months ago. We can wish that we could just turn away and reduce law enforcement, but I do believe that we're going to have to enhance prosecutions. It just is no other solution to it. The New England Journal of Medicine has found that the increase in heroin use is a direct result of more availability, higher purity, and lower cost, and that has always been the role of law enforcement, has it not, Mister Rosenberg, to try to make it less available, lower purity, and higher cost?

CHUCK ROSENBERG: Yes, sir, and if I may, one of the things that concerns me over the last five years, Mister Sessions, we have lost about 850 people. We're down 850 people, and about 450 of those are special agents, so we're trying to do more, and do more smarter, but with significantly less.

JEFFERSON SESSIONS: Mister Chairman, I would just note that prosecutions are actually down, at the end of 2016, the number of federal prosecutions for drug related offenses is down 22 percent compared to five years ago, another figure is down 34 percent. I would just say a large part of that is not the DEA, although there are fewer agents, is a factor, I'm sure. But a lot of that is prosecutorial policies of the United States attorneys offices, set by Attorney General Lynch in Washington, which raises these standards for which cases can be prosecuted. I think that creates risk, and that we're seeing that today, those risks in terms of higher use, more deaths, more purity, and more addiction.

Thank you, Mister Rosenberg. I know you're working hard. I believe you're heart is right on this. I think your head is right.

CHUCK ROSENBERG: Senator, I appreciate that. Like I tell people, we're struggling with stuff. We're going to succeed at some of it, and we're going to fail at some of it, but we're trying to get this right.

DOUG MCVAY: That was part of a DEA oversight hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. You heard DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg being questioned by Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, Republican from Alabama. Beauregard is the nominee for Attorney General in the Trump administration. He is the wrong person for the job, and his nomination should be opposed. Many organizations are working to stop the nomination, including the Drug Policy Alliance and the DC Cannabis Coalition. More information at drugpolicy.org and at DCMJ.org.

DOUG MCVAY: And well folks, that's it for this week. Thank you for joining us. You have been listening to Century Of Lies. We're a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org. Drug Truth Network is on Facebook, please give its page a like. Drug War Facts is on Facebook too, give it a like and share it with friends. You can follow me on Twitter, I'm @DougMcVay and of course also @DrugPolicyFacts.

We'll be back next week with thirty minutes of news and information about the drug war and this Century Of Lies. For now, for the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay saying so long. So long!

For the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay asking you to examine our policy of drug prohibition: the century of lies. Drug Truth Network programs archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.